Dr. Lucas Kandefer says obesity in our pets is a really common issue that we deal with; it’s very problematic when we talk about this long-term. He says a little bit of extra weight here and there is not the end of the world, but we do find that our pets are very easy to start to increase that weight rapidly and that leads to some major problems with these issues.
Dr. Kandefer says our dogs being obese makes all those joints work harder, makes them, in the end, a lot less active a lot of the times, and says we lose about half of our large breed dogs to orthopedic issues. So, when it comes down to it, Dr. Kandefer says he talks to a lot of his clients about the fact when we try to get weight off these pets; he tells them we are gaining months on the back-end of the life for every five or ten pounds we get off these obese pets so it’s really helps decrease the risk for injury and extend that quality and duration of life with our dogs.
Cats, he says, have different issues. Cats don’t tend to exercise very much. Both cats and dogs are very efficient animals, so the exercise is not the way to reduce weight. The way we reduce weight is that we feed them less. Dr. Kandefer says treats, snacks, table scraps for cats and dogs are killers. That’s where we get a lot of that weight from and some animals will regulate the weight on their own, a lot of them won’t but the ones that want to go into that bowl all the time are the ones you really struggle with. He says a lot of times the exercise is really just a distraction for the dog and help the owner feel like they don’t have to just give treats to give a reward for the pets.
Overweight cats are extremely prone to diabetes and it is really difficult to manage. Dr. Kandefer says it’s costly and you have to give injections a couple of times a day. He says there really is no other therapy that will resolve these guys and diabetes leads to renal disease. Heavy cats are actually more prone to renal disease as well so there are a lot of things we deal with these guys that makes it difficult as well as they aren’t always able to groom themselves. They can’t get back to that backend and some cats hate to groom them anyway. He says we can see that, one, it’s kind of gross, the backend under the tail where they can’t clean themselves and we see matting and painful issues with that as well, so our obesity is becoming more and more of a problem with our pets and it’s difficult to manage. It’s time consuming and it’s stressful. He says your cats will bother you endlessly when you start to reduce their food. Your dogs will constantly beg for more food. He says it is something that your veterinarian can help you with, design, tools, methods and ways to make it easier on you. Automatic feeders for your cats is a great way to take you out of the system but there are a lot of things that your veterinarian can help you walk you through to really help you get control of this weight and keep your pets happier and more active and around a lot longer with us.